Archive for December, 2008

The End

Thursday, December 18th, 2008

That was the two weeks that was. Two weeks in Bahrain and after a shaky start I have to say I’m quite attached to the place. I feel relaxed, things are easy and work is not cloaked in 5000 years of face saving and suspicion. You know, do this do that and if its wrong I’ll tell you and if it’s good I’ll tell you. Quite refreshing. The more I think about the people I work with in China the angrier I get as I am now being frozen out. As far as they are concerned out of sight is out of the office for good. So much for the look see I was promised before I left but then this is very Chinese. Nothing confrontational, nothing to the face just a wall of silence. How very typical. You are probably thinking that I have serious issues but I don’t its just that there is a huge cultural difference between China and the west in terms of how we approach design. HUGE. There is no point banging my head against the wall anymore, I’m off to Bahrain. That’s it folks, China is over. I’m leaving the square and I am taking my family with me. Clear blue skies, higher standard of living, car, edible food and civility. Its blandsville in Bahrain but its better than the hate (and it can only be termed that) which I am currently experiencing from two people at work. Hate. That’s a strong word but that’s how it feels. Still, meeting with the Big Boss tomorrow but I think he’s been got whilst I have been away – he seems colder but we will see. I love you China but I am not allowed to work in your country anymore but I’ll be back seeking my revenge.

SOUL II SOUL – Fairplay

Saturday, December 13th, 2008

You say Shemagh and I say Keffiyeh

Saturday, December 13th, 2008

Whats your fucking problem eh? Mentioning to some people that I wanted to get one of the scarves that are synonymous with the Middle East drew wails of derision. I have been called an idiot, a student and a hippy. Why? What’s the beef chief? I can go to China and buy a Chinese silk garment and THAT’S OK. An Arab can go to London and buy a pair of Wellington boots and THAT’S OK. An American can go to Africa and buy, er, some beads and THAT’S OK but a brit cannot go to the Middle East and buy a Shemagh/Keffiyeh because THAT’S NOT OK. Why? I want one. Its part of the culture, its practical, it looks better than some old shit out of GAP its got soul and its local product so why is everyone giving me a hard time? Why am I worried to wear one for fear of being ridiculed by some Levi’s wearing idiot? Is it political? Has the Keffiyeh been demonised to such an extent and IF so then thats pretty stupid because it makes it even more desirable to wear. If Arabs are ok with me wearing it (I asked some) then the rest of you living elsewhere can really stick your opinions in your hole.

Under Pressure

Saturday, December 13th, 2008

This is very intersting, in fact groundbreaking. Chinese media never, ever, reports anything that goes against the wishes of the Communist Party. As you know the media is heavily censored and anyone that dared to report anything other than good news regarding China would be in serious shit. This is why the reporting of the abuse of protestors in Beijing in the a newspaper is nothing less than remarkable. This is rebellion. When you speak to normal Chinese they all know the deal, they all know how currupt and abusive the party is but they are rendered mute and frustrated due to the many punitive consequences that outwardly critical behaviour can lead to. The Chinese are not stupid but they have not yet the will to rise up and change such is the iron grip but things are changing. Frustration is slowly turning to rage and when that boils over the shit will hit the fan. China is not over yet. What we see now is not how it is going to stay and increasingly there seems to be a struggle for the heart of China and I believe we will witness more outward protests in time to come. The pressure cooker is about to explode.

Liberty City

Saturday, December 13th, 2008

Life in Bahrain is interesting. I have been here a week and it has slightly changed my perceptions of the Middle East and of Muslims. Bahrain is basically a rock with buildings on. The landscape is flat, arid and barren with the north part, Manama, being the only city. Manama is Bahrain and as you go south the buildings fizzle out with just sea and sand at the south. Bahrain is more developed than China and far more civilised which does place it on the sterile side slightly but then sterile is good when you have a young child. It is also very small and the population is 700,000 so its like a village more than a country. In fact, I think of it more like Liberty City with each area having its own character and lots and lots of cars driving aimlessly around. Oh yes, cars, you need a car. I have tried to walk around but its not practical as everything here has been designed with the car in mind so its either sand or road. The landscape is very flat and there are only two ‘sky scrapers’ with most building here being either 10 stories or less and placed arbitrarily around town and its not uncommon for buildings to be next to empty, sandy, voids and these areas allow Liberty City style antics as you can go off road and cut through these places to your destination. Of the 700,000 people that live here one third are expats and most of these are Indian. Then Pakistanis then Filipinos and Thais and then, much further down the list, are the Brits and Aussies with a few American service people dotted around but it works well with the Indians doing the cleaning and the Filipinos ad Thais working in all the shops and the highly paid westerners working in the top jobs. That’s how it was and that’s how it is.

Tea In The Sahara

Saturday, December 6th, 2008

I flew out from Pudong on a cold, quiet Tuesday night. I said goodbye to my colleagues in the day and my wife and son in the evening which was very emotional. My son is now at an age where he recognises and knows people and he will miss me when it dawns on him I am no longer there. I took a taxi to Longang Road station and then the Maglev to the deserted airport. Quietly and efficiently we all checked in. There were some dudes praying at the gate and there were Arabs and middle eastern men and ladies everywhere as well as a smattering of Chinese and one or two honkies. I remember being momentarily scared and wary of getting on the plane lest they were all shoe bombers and terrorists and then it occurred to me how brainwashed I have been with my opinions of Muslims and the Middle East just I had been with China before I landed there. (more…)

Protected: Death Of A Salesman

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008

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